By David Glenn Cox
I was up in the attic listening to the crystal radio set with the headphones. I wanted to find out if that young Mr. Lindbergh had ever made it to Paris. The Marconi set is a marvel of 1927 technologies. Just think, a solo crossing of the Atlantic and the first underwater telephone cable to Europe. We live in an age of miracles, what’s next?
With the Internet, the number of streaming television channels and the number of viewing options is literally endless. If I want to watch reruns of McHale’s Navy in Mandarin Chinese, I can. With the computer I can listen to any radio station in the entire world instantly. Inkdrop.net has thousands of world newspapers available in English or in a native tongue. So, if something happens in Japan, I read the Tokyo Times, not CNN or Faux Snooze. “It’s a new world Golda!” If I want to connect with my friends on social media I go to Facebook. If I get tired of Facebook I can go to Facebook or I can go to Facebook. A diverse and active world with a population in the billions only needs one Facebook. Orwell only had one Big Brother channel, wasn’t that good enough?
Why would the world need two radio stations when you can only listen to one at a time? Every business has a life cycle, I remember as a boy an indoor slot car track opened near my house. It was so cool, huge layout, eight lanes. I was captivated and began saving my pennies for a cool slot car. Just as I was about to make my purchase, the slot car track closed. Change comes fast doesn’t it “My Space” users? I remember the good old days arguing with a pimply faced teenager who thought he was Stalin ready to ruin my life over a copy of L.A. Confidential, because he was the manager at Blockbuster. Then marching in all weather out to the mailbox to see if my DVD’s had arrived yet from Netflix.
George Seldon held the patent on the automobile until Henry Ford broke it. The idea that all autos sprang from this one 1895 design was ludicrous. It was like a patenting a boat or stairs. Seldon’s patent drove up prices and inhibited competition. After Seldon was gone, the automobile market exploded. Seldon didn’t invent the automobile he didn’t even build them, he was just the lawyer who got to the courthouse first.
Henry Ford as legend has it paid his workers $5.00 per day an unheard-of wage. Ford had 50% of the market worldwide. He had more money than he knew what to do with. You pay your workers $5.00 a day because it creates a hardship on the competition. They can’t afford it, you can. “You can get a Ford in any color you want…as long as it is black.” When you have 50% of the market you can tell the customer what he likes. Then Chevrolet offered, a gas gauge and a spare tire. Electric lights and a starter available in your choice of colors. Why is there only one Facebook?
Like Ford, Zuckerberg finds himself surfing a wave of societal change and like Ford is screwing it up royally. The first thing that hugely successful companies do is to stop talking to their customers. Busy! Terribly busy! Remarkably busy! Wish I had more time, but I’m late for a symposium on improving customer relations. Any color you want…as long as it’s black!
It is counter intuitive that billionaires worry more about their money than the poor. Zuckerberg like Ford moves into right-wing power circles, “I’m alright Jack keep your hands off of my stack!” He argues with advertisers and it’s simple. Advertisers want control of where their tens of millions of advertising dollars are spent and Zuckerberg says, Any color you want…as long as it’s black. “And hey, if you don’t like it why don’t you try the other Facebook.”
And if the Grace Baptist Church of Antioch, Arkansas doesn’t want condom ads on their Facebook page well, I guess that’s too bad. And if Campbell’s Soup is trying to burnish up their “um, um good” wholesome reputation maybe they don’t want it advertised on a right-wing Militia Page. “Too bad, we make those decisions. We control the vertical, and we control the horizontal hold. Attention all planets of the solar federation, we have assumed control, we have assumed control.
For months Facebook bombarded me about double authentication. Okay, I gave in and added my phone number then I lost my phone. I imagine getting out of East Berlin was also difficult. The short version was three weeks. The Soviet Facebook plumbing company took three weeks to get back to me. They sent me a code that didn’t work. Generally, I like long term projects, but logging into Facebook isn’t one of them. I sent an email to close friends and started a new Facebook account. I awoke from a sound sleep wondering why Facebook hasn’t asked me to do the double authentication on my new account. It must have been a disaster. I’m no dumber than the average bear and not the only one to lose my phone every day in this crazy world of ours.
I was recently blocked for the day after commenting on a picture of the suspects in the kidnapping plot of the Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer. I said, __________ (Caucasian) People. “Just natural born criminals, more senseless white on white crime.” Obviously, I was poking fun at the old racist trope often pointed at black people, but Facebook knows not of this sarcasm? I also understand they are overwhelmed and no matter what they do they will be condemned. But what happens when a simple opinion violates community standards? It’s too large and has gotten away from them sticking their fingers in a thousand leaks in the dike with any color you want, as long as it is black.
I was on a Black Lives Matter page that was being trolled out of existence. They couldn’t post their opinions on Facebook without being trolled with hundreds of dancing Trumps. It was beyond Facebook’s reach to protect them. Just a business decision, Proud Boys and militia types are better Facebook customers, why else would Zuckerberg fight so hard to defend them?
When Henry Ford began building farm tractors, they were priced to be cheaper than a team of horses. It didn’t matter what the tractors cost to build it was about controlling the market. Any color you want…as long as it’s black. Shut up, you like black. Black is your favorite color. How do I know? Because I just told you, that’s how I know.